Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Benefits Wouldn't Outweigh the Cost of the XL-Keystone Pipeline

NORMAN — Numerous oppositional arguments to the proposed pipeline have been presented, and I agree with all. It is said that many jobs will be created by pipeline construction and operation, but the numbers are exaggerated, and, more important, almost all of the jobs are temporary and the pipeline would increase local environmental problems.

Part of President Obama’s inaugural address, presented in January, 2009, was as follows: “That we are now in the midst of a crisis is well understood. ... Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. ...”

Now we have one of the so-called hard choices, but it is really simple! Construction of the proposed Keystone pipeline would facilitate continued dependence on petroleum in the U.S., and environmental destruction in Canada. It is clearly not in our national interest, nor is it in the global interest, and it should not be built.

There can be many more jobs here that would help solve long-range problems. For example, our oil usage is about twice the per capita usage in Europe, which has a far more extensive system for transportation by rail. This situation in our country would be relieved by construction jobs for development here of energy-efficient systems for transportation by rail.

Our society needs to make a large transition away from oil, but this has not occurred in spite of decades-long warnings. Such transition will be painful, but less painful than the transition that would be forced on us soon by natural processes. Such natural processes arise from increase of population and associated emissions of greenhouse gases, and from associated resource depletion and rising prices of food and other essentials.

The Keystone XL pipeline would exacerbate these problems. It would postpone the societal transition that we sorely need, and it would facilitate the environmentally destructive and grossly emissive mining of tar sands in Ontario.

Jared Diamond, in his book, Collapse, notes that societal demise is often a sudden consequence of environmental neglects and environmental destruction. We must not fall victim to attitudes of hubris and exceptionalism.

Letter to the Editor

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